LeBron James wins matchup with Ben Simmons
He opened up the game scoring 13 points in just under five minutes. He closed out the first half with 22 points after getting his own rebound off a missed three-pointer and hitting a corner trey at the intermission buzzer. The highly anticipated matchup between James and Ben Simmons was not much of a matchup. Simmons was still able to score in transition and finish at the rim, but not with the frequency that he has recently. On the other side, James had no problems moving the ball, driving, and hitting from three. He finished with a game-high tying 30 points to go with 13 rebounds. Simmons finished with season-low 10 points after leaving in the fourth with a right ankle sprain.
Robert Covington goes cold
Heading into Monday’s game Covington was shooting 48 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from three. But he had a season-low two points in the loss to the Cavaliers after going 0-of-9 from beyond the arc. The two points is the lowest scoring output from Covington since Dec. 29, 2016 when he had just one point in a loss at Utah. Covington is one of the most versatile players, if not the most versatile, and the Sixers need him to hit shots in order to be successful.
The Sixers struggled offensively in the first half. On top of that, the Cavaliers’ defense clamped down in the second quarter, forcing two Sixers shot-clock violations and holding the Sixers to 21-of-51 from the field. All that said, the Sixers were still within striking distance because of their own defensive efforts in the the first half. With J.R. Smith, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver all getting hot from three in the second half, it was difficult for the Sixers to stay with the Cavs, even with Embiid heating up for 16 points in the third.
T.J. McConnell smothers Dwyane Wade
Even with the Cavaliers pulling away in the second half, McConnell refused to allow Wade any room to breathe. Wade scored 12 points in the first two quarters, but was held to just one shot and one free throw in the third because of McConnell’s tenacious defense. He pestered Wade to the point that Wade was calling for a screen to get just a smidgen of room, but McConnell still came up with defection after deflection, forcing multiple turnovers.
The Sixers opened the game going 0-of-11 from three in the first half. The Cavs weren’t much better hitting 5-of-19. Then the Cavaliers went on a tear, hitting six threes in the third while the Sixers stayed cold. There were many reason for the Sixers loss, but the lack of the long ball was a glaring problem. Cleveland finished shooting 40.5 percent from three-point range, while the Sixers connected on just 3-of-28 from three.